Billboard found something else that Irving Azoff, executive chairman of Live Nation, can sit atop: In the January 28 issue of the magazine, Billboard unveils the Power 100, a ranking of the most powerful people in the music business.
Azoff's position on the Power 100 reflects a general trend in power, away from record labels and over to the management and touring side of the business. Of the 100 slots, 23 were filled by those in management or the touring business, compared to 21 record labels.
"Ultimately the artists are in control," noted one top entertainment attorney, speaking in consultation to the creation of the list. "So whoever most influences the artist has the power. But the label role has diminished as they no longer can provide the established artists with as much cash as they used to."
Rankings were determined by a combination of key factors including market share, exclusive Billboard chart data/boxscore information, and revenue. A team of 15 top Billboard editors then analyzed the value of these metrics to produce the final results. The list is U.S. based. As well, the Power 100 puts a premium on the top decision makers at each company. So, for example, the strong position of Interscope's Jimmy Iovine's is an argument against a high position for the number-two at that company, Steve Berman, who still makes the list.
The list boasts six artists, each of whom cracked the business ranking for specific reasons. "We couldn't weigh the power of an artist's fanbase against the power an executive has, or this would have simply been an artist list," says Bill Werde, Billboard's editorial director. "Our Moneymakers list is our artist list. But certain artists were able to break through to the Power 100 based purely on their business success or innovations."
Artists on the Power 100 include Jay-Z and Beyonce as a power couple, Taylor Swift, U2, Jon Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga.
The rapidly changing music business is represented by the diversity of the remaining slots on the Power 100. There are 10 executives in television or movies (who either book artists or curate music for their productions); nine radio-industry executives and seven music-publishing executives (eight, including David Israelite of the National Music Publishers Association).
The list also includes executives from six digital service providers, from webcasters like Pandora to digital download stores like iTunes; five companies that use music for branding purposes and provide tour and artist sponsorship opportunities like Coca Cola, Chevrolet and AMEX; and five trade groups, like the RIAA and A2IM. There are also four lawyers, and two venture capitalists who invest in music-related companies.
Azoff's placement at the top of the list is due to his command of the biggest concert-promotion company, the largest ticketing company and the largest artist-management firm in the world. Since live performances are the main revenue source for artists, the touring industry is well represented on the list.
In the year ended 2010, Live Nation posted sales of $5.06 billion in revenue, up 21% from the prior year's total of $4.2 billion. That increase is almost entirely due to the merger with Ticketmaster that brought Azoff -- a veteran music industry executive with a long resume that includes running major record labels and artist-management firms -- into the company. But in 2011, going up against the merger numbers, Live Nation is still up 9.75% to $4.2 billion, up another 9.75% from $3.83 billion.
Azoff's power reflects the changing dynamic in the music business. As he said in the Q&A that appears in the issue, "It's all about the artist and those they empower to execute their business plans."